Faster diagnosis

OCT scans as part of the NHS sight test to speed up diagnosis

Optometrist looking at patient's OCT scan

The use of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scans as part of the NHS sight test is an opportunity to reduce unnecessary referrals into HES and speed up the diagnostic and treatment pathway for patients.

While this would incur an additional cost under any new NHS contract, utilising community optometry practices that already have OCT machines available provides a far more cost-effective solution.

We calculate that for the existing volume of OCT scanners to be mirrored in proposed new hubs, as an alternative model, would require capital expenditure in excess of £90m.

What OCT has to offer

  • OCT allows for a comprehensive scan of the back of the eye, providing an in-depth view of eye health issues not ordinarily visible as part of the NHS sight test
  • These scans are available at an extra privately funded cost to the patient alongside a sight test
  • At least 3000 High Street optometry practice have this hospital grade equipment; if the NHS provided funding for OCT scans to be conducted following an NHS sight test when there was a clinical indication, unnecessary referrals to HES could be reduced significantly, shrinking the ophthalmology backlog
  • Without using these scans, false positive referrals to hospital services for some time-sensitive conditions, such as Wet AMD, will remain high.